When your life goes off the rails
2 hours ago
Chapter 7Le•git•i•mate Busi•ness•men (n): Guys who always know the best place to get a pulled-pork sandwich.
The second moon of Sproxula was famous for its lack of notoriety. As in, most folks weren’t aware Sproxula boasted a moon, much less two. It stood to reason that most people just didn’t care. Except when they needed to borrow a ship with certain, special features: ability to thwart tracking and sensor devices, lightning-quick speed, and a snazzy paint job.
“What is this moon called?” Juliet asked Erit. She tied the belt of her faux-fur jacket with a harrumph; this place was covered in the sort of pea-soup mist that dampened your bones and ruined your favorite purple platform suede booties. She’d already had one shoe disaster this week—two was just irresponsible.
“It doesn’t have a name.” Erit, arm around her waist, navigated them through the single lane of the town, er, village, er, rickety assemblage of iron shanties to the end of paved walkway. He seemed to know the way. She’d wait until after to thank him. This place didn’t look terribly promising.
A large, rusting ship hangar stood forlorn in the fog, like a wallflower in a particularly pathetic ballroom. A sign reading “TOILIT PIPES ‘N’ SUPLIES” hung optimistically on the front.
Erit pounded on the door three times. The right side of the unfortunately-spelled sign swung free and arced downward. “It’s the pendulum on the pit,” Juliet whispered. Erit snickered.
The door creaked open, inch by inch, horror-movie style. “Which is the code word, then?” gruffed a deep voice in the Collective’s tongue.
Juliet turned to Erit. Erit’s brows shot upward. The voice waited, breathing noisily. The uninvited guests stood there, eyeballs akimbo, until Juliet said, “Money?”
“Right you is, Miss.”
Juliet nodded and tried to appear quite confident to the disembodied voice in the toilit hangar.
The door whooshed open and out popped a little man who was no more than three feet tall. The weak sunlight got a boost from his suit—a jaunty affair in stripes of mauve and teal with an English tab collar. Erit’s own duds of lime green seemed positively demure by comparison. The stranger’s outfit went surprisingly well with the short, white fur that covered him from head to (presumably) foot. A dashing pair of sparkly pink and white spectator shoes hid those particular appendages.
“Where did you get those shoes?” Erit exclaimed.
The man did a sort of bobbing bow and ushered them inside quickly. The cramped front room contained a row of toilets from end to end. They perched against the back wall almost atop one another, and were covered in a thick layer of dust. It was like a wood-paneled outhouse for an exhibitionist family.
“I see you is a chum of exacting taste,” said the man to Erit. “You in the perfect place. And, may I comment, you shoes, Milady, is the grawborth’s teeth.”
Juliet smiled and stuck her leg out at a jaunty angle, assuming the grawborth’s teeth to be a good and cute thing. She suddenly worried that her faux-fur jacket would be insulting to the man, as if she sported an approximation of his mother.
“I go by the name Ipwoth. Mr. Ipwoth if you is so inclined. First thing I must inquire: Is you a plumber, then, or persons of the Collective government?”
“Plumbers,” Juliet and Erit blurted out in unison.
“Naturally.” He eased next to the center commode and tapped his foot. Juliet spied the edge of an almost-invisible floor button. She tensed. “If you would be so kind, my associate, Mr. Hamrock, will kindly check you for unfriendly accessories.”
Another gent sauntered in—this one with ginger fur and a white beard. His beige suit was not nearly so special as Ipwoth’s, however. Hamrock frisked them both and, finding nothing, tipped his porkpie hat before leaving. Juliet’s shoulders fell, and she smiled at their host.
Ipwoth rocked on his heels. “What can I do for you attractive gent and lady today?”
“We need a … toilet, Mr. Ipwoth,” Erit said.
“Yes, yes. We have many a fine toilet to rent here.” Mr. Ipwoth walked over to one in the middle and patted the top. Dust ballooned into the air and settled over his shoulders. Juliet resisted the urge to give him a good fluff on the head to dislodge the debris in his fine fur.
Erit elaborated. “Definitely a fast toilet.”
“With a large commode, one capable of servicing at least five hundred people at one time,” Juliet added.
Mr. Ipwoth stroked his short, brown beard. “Go on.”
Erit rocked on his heels. “It needs a … flusher not readily detectable to … that is to say, a quiet flusher. And a built-in descrambler for any waste traveling between sewer systems.”
“Non-traceable manufacture number, I would guess,” Mr. Ipwoth said.
Mr. Ipwoth bobbed a nod. “Have you considered a privy with a cloaking device? For those times when you might want to go number two in complete privacy.”
“I do enjoy a private number two,” Juliet said.
Erit gave her a bow. “She’s quality, through and through.”
Juliet presented him with a saucy wink. “Oh! The toilet needs extremely large and capable pipes so it can shoot waste with great accuracy to blow up other latrines.”
“I never rent a commode without a big pipe, Miss. Why, your bathroom could get overrun.”
This might have been the strangest conversation about toilets she’d ever had. But not the dirtiest.
Their dapper host shuffled to the far wall (two feet over or so) and knocked twice on the wood. The entire thing flew upward to reveal the rest of the enormous hangar. Ships of every sort filled it, and many of Mr. Ipwoth’s species bustled about, working diligently.
He led them to a massive transport vehicle that read “Qzzashdetx and Qzzashdetx Plumbing.” Bright yellow with orange stripes, it featured a cartoon insect with three stingers wielding a plunger.
“Not exactly subtle,” Erit said.
“Ah, but who would think you were up to anything but plumbing in such a vehicle? Er, toilet?” Mr. Ipwoth continued on, listing the features of the ship and finally naming a price. Juliet put on her haggling face. Ipwoth began panting and making cute, wide eyes at her. She gave in on the two weeks’ rental. No wonder the adorable bastard could afford such snazzy suits.
“Although you look like a fine, upstanding miss,”—Ipwoth ogled her coat critically—“I must insist on a large deposit, in case the plumbing you perform is of a semi-legal nature.”
Juliet fluttered her hands against her chest, as if her cleavage was the source of all of her illicit intentions and she must cover it. “Of course.”
They shook on it, and Juliet deposited a wad of Collective currency. Just call her Lady Qzzashdetx. She gave Mr. Ipwoth another fifty percent and said, “I’m sure you can forget we were ever here.”
“Quite,” he replied. “All plumbers looks alike to me.”
Sometimes the biggest risk a lady can take is not battling an evil planetary emperor with questionable taste in muttonchops, but baring her heart to the alien she loves. And his tail.
If you’re a bounty-hunting floozy with a stellar rack, what do you do when an evil despot is hell-bent on your destruction?
Stage a coup of his planet, of course.
Juliet Lawrence’s plans for defeating King Bob the Nefarious are going better than her relationship with hunky alien ship captain, Ragnar Manscape. Oh, the sex is great. His pecs and their laughs are top notch. The meeting with his parents goes … somewhat worse. It’s always a bad sign when your boyfriend’s folks choose the family spider over you.
The secret Juliet’s been keeping from Ragnar doesn’t help—uncomfortable conversations about “feelings” are not her forte. Fortunately, Juliet has lots of time to plot the downfall of King Bob’s intergalactic concubine slave trade once Ragnar unceremoniously dumps her.
Can Juliet defeat King Assface with the help of her computer genius ex-boyfriend Erit, their flying toilet, and her brand new nun habit? Will Ragnar leave Juliet to the space wolves or go along with her crazy plan to topple a government using hair pins? And can Juliet really have it all while maintaining bouncy, manageable hair? Find out in RAGNAR AND JULIET 2: CONCUBINE BOOGALOO, the sequel to RAGNAR AND JULIET, the book Just Erotic Romance Reviews called “… delightful! This book definitely goes in my re-read stack to keep me warm this winter!”